Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Withdrawing the Salary Ordinance was the Best Option

Denville's Mayor and his Administration are responsible for negotiating contracts with the Denville Police and Township employees and the Town Council ratifies them. Earlier this year, with much debate, Mayor Ted Hussa's administration made a very strong case to the Council for a proposed negotiation. At first I was wary of the proposed negotiation terms because of salary increases very different from what the private sector was experiencing. However, a strong case was made presenting long term savings in the negotiations. These savings would be realized by concessions of starting salaries, medical contributions and avoiding the costs of arbitration. By state law, contract disputes can be taken to a 3rd party arbitrator. Surrounding towns and Denville have not faired well going to arbitration, even in difficult economic times. This original general plan from the Mayor's Administration was unanimously supported by the Council.

At last Tuesday evening's Denville Town Council meeting, the salary ordinance was up for adoption.   It was very clear that the Mayor's position on his own office's negotiation had changed.  It also appeared extremely likely, that a Mayoral veto would be executed if the ordinance was approved.
Regardless of the Council's opinions of the contract and without hesitation, I seconded the motion of withdrawing the ordinance because of this. The withdrawal was not a vote for or against the ordinance. It was a strong message, which the Council unanimously supported, sending the contract back to the Mayor's office for him to re-evaluate since his position had changed. Denville Town Council awaits an update from the Mayor on how he will proceed.

Whether or not these events will save or cost Denville remain to be seen but as a Councilman I am prepared to debate, research and ask many questions of any new contracts put before the council. These are extraordinary, difficult and rapidly-changing economic times with tough decisions and major sacrifices needed. I am very disappointed with how this all came about and a lack of leadership from our Mayor on this particular instance but look forward to assisting him however I can to provide a solution and move forward. We'll need to resolve this in a way that is very conscious of costs and fair to our officers and township employees.